The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is a place where those facing cancer can find support, those lost to cancer will be remembered and where everyone shares the vision that one day cancer will be eliminated. Delray Beach residents have formed their teams and are ready to walk on April 13, 2013 at Atlantic High School and on April 20, 2013 at Veterans Park in Downtown Delray. “They want to take advantage of the chance to celebrate, remember and fight back and most of all, they want to be a part of the worldwide movement to stop cancer,” said Jamie Lober, Public Relations Chairman for the American Cancer Society – South Palm Beach Chapter. It is essentially an organized, overnight community fundraising walk where members of teams take turns walking around a track.
Each person’s reason to Relay is as unique as their personal story. “I Relay for my father who is the bravest and most determined person I know,” said Lober. Lober has publicly disclosed that her father has been dealing with rare cancer which she tells has led her to “own the mission of the American Cancer Society.” She shares that she has found healing and comfort through meeting others who have directly or indirectly faced the disease, appreciated the chance to thank people who have supported her on her personal journey and has been pleased to find that there are others as bent on finding a cure for cancer. “I hope to see the Relay where my dad is able to walk the survivors’ lap around the track,” said Lober. While Relay unifies communities, each one is slightly different but a few traditions remain the same. It starts with a survivors’ lap and then caregivers are recognized. “People do not realize that the effects of cancer extend beyond just the person who is diagnosed,” said Lober. After the celebratory part, folks remember those they have lost during a luminaria ceremony where candles are lit that bear the names of victims. “Participants walk in silence and it is emotionally hard but showing this grief really accents the importance of why we must wipe out this disease,” said Lober. Last is the fight back ceremony which is a time where people vow to make the personal commitment to fight cancer. “Acts as uninvolved as getting a screening test, quitting smoking or articulating this cause to elected officials can help save lives,” said Lober. Relay for Life is family-friendly and you can find lots of great entertainment. No matter how long you decide to stay at the event, you are sure to feel a sense of accomplishment. “What I like best about it is that Relay for Life started with just one person and goes to show that one person can make a difference,” said Lober. Continuing on to tell the story of Relay for Life, Lober explains that it all began with one doctor named Gordy Klatt in Washington that wanted to help the American Cancer Society raise money back in 1985. “His hobby was marathon running so he spent twenty-four difficult hours walking a track as friends donated to walk with him,” said Lober. Months later he organized a committee to make this a larger Relay and today, cities around the world have organized committees just as he did. Team members and donors need to understand how their financial support is making a difference. “We rely on generosity so patients and their families can stay at the Hope Lodge which is a free and comfortable facility available to them when the best treatment option is not close to home; we count on them Road to Recovery where we match cancer patients with specially trained drivers; we depend on them for Look Good…Feel Better which teaches women beauty techniques so they feel better about their image during therapy; and we rely on donors for Reach to Recovery which matches breast cancer patients with specially trained survivors who share their experience,” said Lober. Lober makes the case that everyone should become familiar with the American Cancer Society and take some steps, literally, to fight back. “Cancer is hands-down our nation’s biggest health problem and there is no reason that every Pineapple reader should not come out for the cause,” said Lober.